Well, that was eye opening. Just when you think you have it figured out, the Children of the Forest go ahead and create the White Walkers. The tree nymphs tie up an unnamed human and agonizingly slowly push a shard of dragonglass into his chest, turning him into the, up until now, mysterious Night’s King. It’s nice to get answers on where these ice zombies originally came from, but at the same time, now learning that these near unstoppable entities were once just sacs of meat like us does take a little bit of the sting away.
They were a rampaging force of nature, who simply decimated the Wildlings in last season’s “Hardhome”; they turn sacrificed bastard babies into their kind with simply a touch of their finger; and they laid absolute waste to the former home of the Three-Eyed Raven. I don’t want to know that they were once as weak and feeble as humans, and their thought process is based solely on getting revenge on the Children for turning them into such monsters.
Still, that final was fantastic. Meera becomes (I think?) only the third person–other than Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly–to kill a White Walker, and yet another direwolf bites the dust*, this time Summer, Bran’s protector. The final moments of course belong to the Hodor formerly known as Wylis, the gentle giant who saved Bran’s life (again), holding back the wights as they attacked from within the cavern halls. It’s amazing what a character can emote with ability to only say one word, but Hodor was and I believe continue to be a fan favorite up until the series end.
*The direwolves never get a fair shake, nor a proper send off, really. After Ned Stark found the litter and gave one each to his six children, one reckons that they would have a pivotal place at least in some parts of the story. Yet, with Summer’s death (albeit heroic), and Rickon’s Shaggy Dog’s (offscreen) in the previous episode by the traitorous Umbers, you wonder what the purpose of even having them on the show has been, other than the occasional growl and CGI. I’d love for Jon’s wolf, Ghost, to have an important part of the saga, and who even knows where Arya’s fled to after nearly being killed by Joffrey.
The way Hodor became to be is a tragic story. Bran greensees into the past once more to try to put the pieces of his family’s life together. As the wights and Walkers attack, Bran’s consciousness is seemingly in two places at once as both he and Wylis are able to hear Meera cry out, “Hold the door!” As Bran wargs into Hodor to use his brute strength, that connection to the future also wargs Wylis, and he seizes onto the ground, calling out, “Hold the door! Hold the door! Hold the door!” until his words eventually meld into the familiar name we’ve grown to love. It’s a sad and fearless way to go out, being ripped apart, while keeping the zombies at bay while Meera and Bran’s paralyzed body escape. As the series comes to a close in the next twenty or so episodes, I guess we should all be prepared to for more losses on the battlefields.
And how powerful is Bran now? It’s clear that during his appearances in the past, he has the power to be seen and heard, and more importantly, his presence felt. His ability now to change the past and therein the future could (and perhaps already has) have major ramifications going forward. Will we see him have interactions with any Targaryens when they stood atop the throne? Likely we’re going at least once more to the castle where his aunt Lyanna is being held prisoner. Others have surmised that Bran could have a connection to Brandon the Builder who was the architect to the Wall. But, is it necessary for Bran to go back to make the Mad King crazy, or for the wall to be built if those things have already happened? Or is his going back the necessary causality to close the loop allowing the future to continue on its true path? My head hurts. If nothing else, the expediency that the Night’s King took to get to Bran after grabbed the young Stark’s arm in his vision should tell you something of Bran’s importance to the entire story and his potential.
• I quite enjoyed when Sansa met with Petyr Baelish. After summoning her with a raven, he bites off more than he can chew when Sansa lays into him about his plan to leave her with Ramsey. In a not-so-subtle way, she insinuates what the sadist did to her, as Baelish looks on, and Brienne keeps one hand on her Valerian steel. Sansa is wise not to trust anything Littlefinger says, but interesting that she uses his departing advice to seek out her uncle in the North to aid in the eventual overthrowing of Winterfell. This is a Sansa I can cheer for. One that gives the shit instead of taking it. She looks incredibly tough in her fur and newly wolf embossed leather.
• Arya witnessing the play based on her father’s dealings as the Hand of the King must have been tough to swallow. It’s starts off jovial, but quickly turns as the actors reenact the beheading that shocked the world in season one. If you remember, Arya was in the crowd when that happened and had a first hand view as her father’s head rolled lifelessly away from its body. It’s arguable who has had the most growth during GOT’s six current seasons, but the youngest must be up there, as her training as a faceless assassin is in full swing.
• Over on the Iron Islands, the Kingsmoot reaches its conclusion and it’s not difficult to imagine how many potential rulers didn’t fulfill their presumed destiny simply by swallowing too much seawater. What an odd (but fitting given the environment and their beliefs) ritual to select a monarch. As Euron is sworn in and a driftwood crown placed on his head, he seeks to murder his nephew and niece, but is a step behind, as Yara and Theon have escaped the Islands with every single ship! One would think the man/womanpower it took to commandeer roughly 100 ships, is enough to convince your countryfolk that you’re fit enough to reign. And Euron’s plan is to “build 1000 ships” and seduce Daenerys into being the King in her long game. It’s an interesting idea seeing that the Dothraki have a certain aversion to water, but I see a dragon in Euron’s future, and not one that he’s riding into victory.
• A new religious player in the game in the form of Kinvara, the High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis, Kinvara follows the same path as Melisandre, though her eyes tells us she’s either she’s much more steadfast in her beliefs, or she hasn’t encountered the same hardships as our more familiar Red Woman. The way Kinvara recalls Varys’s past and the way he lost his reproductive organs is chilling. She looks to be someone absolute in her beliefs. A scary thought in this world.
• Tormund giving this look to Brienne should win an Emmy.